SEPA to tackle cross-border waste crime

SEPA to tackle cross-border waste crime
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is to lead three days of action aimed at tackling cross-border criminal waste activity between 17 and 19 May.

Interventions will be carried out jointly between SEPA and key partners during each day of action in order, SEPA said, to ‘ensure a common understanding of inspection techniques’.

Terry A’Hearn, SEPA’s Chief Executive, said that the action has been specifically designed to help SEPA identify the scale of illicit waste transport in Scotland and pilot a series of practical approaches that will improve its ability to tackle the issue.

It also intends to emphasise that compliance is not optional for waste carriers and that avenues for illegal activity are being investigated and clamped down on.

The targeted interventions will take place as part of Operation Nortese, and will involve site inspections, roadside stops and port checks in Northern England, the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, while certain interventions will also require coordination with environmental agencies in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Alongside the interventions, SEPA has distributed a ‘Clamping Down on Waste Crime’ leaflet to nearly 8,000 registered waste carriers and brokers to remind them of their responsibilities and the available sources of advice on compliance. These leaflets will also be handed out by SEPA officers during the three days of operation.


The operation has been prompted by SEPA’s ongoing LIFE SMART Waste project, which aims to develop new and innovative strategies for tackling and disrupting waste crime.

Running across five years, the project is funded by the European Union’s LIFE+ programme to improve intelligence gathering between European agencies and identify criminal enterprises.

Alongside SEPA, participants in the action include the Environment Agency, Police Scotland, the British Transport Police, HM Revenue and Customs, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.

SEPA to tackle cross-border waste crime
Multi-agency approach ‘of paramount importance’

Commenting on the upcoming interventions, A’Hearn said: “While we know that the vast majority of operators behave responsibly, the actions of those who choose to act outside the law continue to have an adverse impact on our environment, our society and the economy.

“The multi-agency approach to this initiative is of paramount importance and the lessons learned will ensure that cross border waste crime continues to be tackled effectively in future.”

Deputy Chief Constable Ruaraidh Nicolson, responsible for Crime and Operational Support at Police Scotland, added: “Police Scotland is committed to working with partners to ensure cross-border criminal activity in the waste industry cannot ever gain a significant foothold in Scotland.

“We will robustly reinforce the legal responsibilities incumbent upon companies operating in the waste industry whenever any wrongdoing is detected. This is a nationwide issue and a matter which can affect any part of the country. 

“Working in conjunction with SEPA, as well as several other partner organisations, Police Scotland is committed to reduce the risk to our communities from waste industry crime.”

More information about SEPA’s LIFE SMART Waste project can be found on the agency’s website.